Susana Gutierrez

My name is Susana Gutiérrez, and I was born and raised in San Antonio, Texas. My roots run deep there; my family is Mexican-American, indigenous to South Texas, and has settled there for centuries. Growing up in a space marked by a mélange of Mexican, American Southern, and Native cultures was instrumental in developing my identity in all of its lovely contradictions. It is my true homeland and where my heart will always reside.

I was a bit of a soft spoken child who found her voice largely through speech and debate. From sixth grade through my senior year of high school I devoted myself to competing, storytelling, and oration. Through much of my own experience and largely through the rise of social media, I opened my eyes to a number of grave injustices that marked my adolescence. I watched the birth and development of an era of social movements: Love Is Love, Black Lives Matter, March for Our Lives, Me Too. I had a stake in these movements; I knew viscerally that I had to contribute. I knew that hindsight is 20/20 and that history stands with the righteous. When someone writes books about now, which side of the page was I going to be on? I translated this work into grassroots organizing and of course speech and debate. Any platform that garnered any degree of influence was an important one. If you change just one person's perspective, you change their world forever.

I came to Duke to do exactly that. I admittedly was unsure about attending until a few exceptional student activists convinced me that this was my future home. It had to be. My first semester challenged me in ways I could not have anticipated. Before classes even commenced there were a number of racist incidents targeted at my own community and those that I am in solidarity with. We responded with absolute grace in the face of adversity. We won significant victories. There is much more to be done, but I am not disillusioned. The incredible students on this campus give me hope beyond measure.

I pursued Baldwin Scholars because I believe women are revolutionary. I have personally been touched and uplifted by a number of incredible women on campus and wish to contribute to a community that will do the same for other young women for years to come. The women in my cohort are indeed change-makers. They have exceptional potential and they inspire me every day. Although I haven't yet declared my major, I intend to attend law school and eventually become a human rights attorney. At Duke, I've spent much of my time devoting myself to People's State of the University, the Duke University NAACP, Mi Gente, and of course, Baldwin Scholars.

Outside of school, I am an avid writer. I love journaling, songwriting and poetry. I read voraciously, my favorite authors being Toni Morrison, Sandra Cisneros, and Gabriel García Márquez. I love listening to music and intend to create my own someday soon.

I cannot wait for the next three and a half years and all the potential that they bring.

I leave you now with one of my favorite quotes by el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz: "Early in life I had learned that if you want something, you had better make some noise."

photo of Susana Gutierrez